Rob Curley: In the face of hate, Spokane showed its strength

SPOKANE, Wash. – A handful of Westboro Baptist Church members began protesting in front of the Convention Center in downtown Spokane on Thursday and were met with a crowd of counter-protesters.

"I can't believe that someone would sit here and hold a sign like that," said Randy Wagar. "Why the hate, why so much hate?"

The members of the church, known for its hateful messages towards homosexuals, divorce, American soldiers, environmentalists, scientists, and other churches, were specifically protesting the North American Association of Environmental Education which was holding a conference inside.

"They are all lying about God and what his words say," said Jael Holroyd, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. "That's awful, that is evil."

She believes science is a false religion and told KXLY that the group's message is actually done in kindness, as opposed to hate.

Counter-protesters weren't buying that line, especially at Gonzaga were more than a hundred students turned out to protest the church members.

Westboro Baptist Church members said they included protesting at Gonzaga on their schedule, because of the Jesuit background of the school.

"Those students are walking the wrong path," said Holroyd. "It's not a good university."

But even as anger rose and voices got louder, students protesting knew what they were there for, standing up against intolerance and exercising their rights.

"We thought it would be a good exercise in the first amendment," said Gonzaga Law student Kyle Madsen. "We get to say what we say, and we will let them say what they say."

At both locations there was a heavy police presence, with dozens of police officers keeping the peace, separating the counter-protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church members.

The church, according to its website, will continue its protest on Friday morning in front of the Lewis and Clark High School. According to the school district, students will not be in class due to a teacher development day.

SPOKANE, Wash. – Members of the Westboro Baptist Church waved signs on the streets of Spokane today, protesting a number of issues they feel are "dooming" America; those include homosexuality, gay marriage, divorce, American soldiers, remarriage, environmentalism, and more.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing outside of Spokanes Convention center right now. The group is known for its hateful messages towards soldiers, other religions and gay individuals #kxly

They found themselves outnumbered, though, as they protested in front of the Spokane Convention Center and Gonzaga University. By the time the group left the Convention Center and walked to the university, the crowd of counter-protesters had grown so large Spokane Police put up tape to keep people out of the roads.

Two dozen officers remain on the scene keeping the peace. According to the Westboro Baptist Church website they'll be picketing at the convention center again tonight from 5:00 to 5:45.

It appeared the WBC members were packing up, much to the cheers of the assembled counter protesters, but they are now back on corner. Earlier, they had been singing lyrics against LGBT folks but the music seems to have stopped as crowds have begun to get much louder #kxly

Posted in Spokane